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Hall of Famers? Breaking Down the 2016 Class Featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson

The beauty of sports is the debate that accompanies it.  From determining who the greatest player is of all time or which generation of players were better, there is no way of determining the absolute answer.  Heck, we can’t even decide who the better player is within the same generation because of circumstances where one team might be weaker than the other.  With Kobe Bryant’s retirement and his status as the greatest player of all time (Michael Jordan has a rightful claim to this title), the talk has shifted to other legends of the game.  This year’s inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame will certainly generate discussion and debate, as their legacy leaves many doubts.

2016 HOF

This year’s inductees include marquee names such as Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Yao Ming.  I am a bit biased in saying they were very good players and are deserving of the induction simply because they were the star players of my generation.  Comparing them to the past of Julius Irving, Moses Malone, or even Karl Malone is impossible.  The league undergoes stylistic changes every decade or so – big men once dominated but now quick combo guards rule the roost.  With that said, let’s do a quick analysis of each player.

Shaq-Fu

The Diesel, Shaq, Superman – these are superlatives that describe Shaquille O’Neal’s skillset.  Essentially made out of iron, no one can ever come close to the power he had.  Almost as if he wore a weighted vest, Shaq could back any one down and take the physicality of any dirty post player.  He even had strategic fouling for free throws named in his honor, the “Hack-a-Shaq” approach that we now see applied towards Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin.  None the less, Shaq had quick feet for a big buy and was a master at backing down his opponents.  Greatest center of all time?  Hard to call, but he definitely ranks up there with Patrick Ewing, Julius Irving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon.  All these players played to their strengths, and they would all struggle or dominate in different teams and eras of basketball.

Chairman Yao

On the topic of dominant centers, Yao Ming certainly does not come up within the discussion.  Either his short lived career or stigma has detracted from his accolades.  Being the first Chinese player in the NBA that truly brought basketball to an international level, Ming’s large fan base and overseas jersey sales makes him a marketing behemoth rather than a dominant big man.  His nine-year career saw him average nearly twenty points a game with ten rebounds.  With stats like that on a dismal Houston Rockets team, there is no question that Ming was a good player – but one would find it hard to argue him as one of the greatest of all time.

The Answer

One player that does not need his credentials re-examined is Allen Iverson.  The Answer, or A.I., was an outspoken player on and off the court.  Many folks looked up to him because he was “real” and outspoken with his street wear, bling jewelry, and tattoos, and his 6 feet stature was many “average Joes” could relate to.  One didn’t need to be a 6 foot 5 inch athletic freak to play with the heart and determination Iverson did.  And it showed through his NBA scoring titles on teams where he was the only star player.  Many great players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James played on teams with multiple stars.  Iverson didn’t, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive.  In my opinion, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame – even without having won any championships.

 

Much like anything in life, the best basketball players are subjective.  Each player developed their playing style that was representative of the trend then.  They played on teams that might or might not have suited their strengths, thus limiting their accolades and awards.  Judging the players by an individual basis is key to determining their merits and status as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Take my opinion with a grain of salt, and let’s get the conversations flowing about basketball, life, or whatever.  Debate leads to intelligence, so open your mouth and back it up with facts.
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